Jargon is directed toward insiders; it is similar to cliché in that one needs insider knowledge to understand it, and much of it is quite bad. Academics use epistemology, ontology, and alterity; businesses use think outside the box and land and expand; and police officers use code four, perp walk, and copy. And that isn’t all!
- Folks, we need to shift a paradigm and locate our core competency.
- If we fully understood their epistemology, we could access their knowledge.
- They need to up their game by actionizing their accounts.
Jargon is both a form of insider-based shorthand and a way to avoid a more detailed explanation. It can be in the form of eyebrow-raising imagery (trying to get your ducks in a row or move the needle), and if it’s causing you confusion, it immediately tells you that you are not part of that particular insider group. It also supports the tendency to turn nouns into verbs, such as access and impact. Be daring! Dare to speak more simply, and with a bit of originality. Don’t up your game; strive to do a better job.
If jargon sounds like birds chattering meaninglessly to you, then you come by that impression honestly. The word is rooted in Old French and means “a chattering of birds.” It went downhill from there — most of us like birds, after all — to mean idle, unintelligible nonsense.